A recent survey carried out by the Fire Industry Association (FIA) found that over a twelve-month period, 1.629 injuries were prevented and 24 lives saved by the use of fire extinguishers. 88% of fires were successfully tackled using portable extinguishers and in 75% of cases the fire service was not required to attend (saving around £5 million each year in fire service resources).

With these facts in mind, did you know that as a business owner, you’re responsible for the safety of your building, employees and visitors. This includes the provision of adequate fire safety equipment throughout the building. However, simply providing the equipment for firefighting and protection is not enough. You must also routinely inspect and maintain the equipment to ensure that it will function correctly in an emergency. This is a legal requirement set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

So, with this requirement in mind, the team at Hartson Fire in Swansea has come up with a check list for customers and business owners on how often you need to service your fire extinguishers and the types of servicing is required.

Annual Fire Extinguisher Service

Every 12 months, you must have your fire extinguishers serviced, referred to as a “basic service”. This service should be carried out in accordance with the BS 5036-3 standard and should be conducted by a third party, accredited fire extinguisher technician, with the correct tools, training and experience.

During a basic service, a technician will typically change the head cap seal, check the correct operation of the head cap safety pin, test the pressure gauge, and change any O rings in the junction of the valve and hose or horn. A visual check of the condition of the extinguisher and instruction label is also required. Finally, the technician will fill in the maintenance label which carries the service history of the extinguisher.

Extended Service

Extended servicing should be carried out every five years for water, foam, powder, and wet chemical extinguishers. Just like the annual basic service, this is best conducted by a trained and accredited technician, with the knowledge and experience to service an extinguisher correctly, safely and in line with fire regulations.

Once again, the extended service goes through a detailed and in-depth look at everything included in the basic service, to the highest possible standard. The extinguisher is then discharged, with specific attention paid to the pattern, distance and duration of the discharged fire suppressant to ensure it is within specification.

The extinguisher’s valves are checked and replaced if necessary and the interior is inspected to ensure that the lining is intact and there is no corrosion. The head cap O ring is replaced and the head cap assembly re-seated to ensure that the valve will hold pressure. Next the extinguisher is re-filled and pressurised to specification and checked for leaks.

A CO2 extinguisher requires an extended service every 10 years. This is because CO2 extinguishers have higher pressure than other fire extinguishers and so are subject to slightly different regulations and require different servicing.

The primary valve is replaced for a fresh one and the extinguisher body is hydrostatically pressure tested to check for stretching, cracking or bulging, which would otherwise be dangerous when re-filled. This usually involves the extinguisher being sent to an accredited service centre.

End of Life

Providing that the fire extinguisher continues to pass inspections and can be serviced, there is no limit to how old a fire extinguisher can be used. However, after a while replacement parts are no longer available, manufacturing standards change, and it becomes harder to service economically.

Because of the current environmental requirements regarding discharging of contents, and British Standard requirements regarding refilling, many extinguishers are now simply replaced with a new one when they are due an extended service or refill after use.

Fire Extinguisher Servicing and HMO’s

The Government’s Guide 3 – Sleeping accommodation provides all the information owners of HMO’s require to comply with fire regulations including the number of extinguishers required, depending on the size and construct of the building. All fire equipment must be regularly maintained to ensure it is full working order.

Accessing an HMO where the fire equipment is located in common areas is not usually a problem when it comes to servicing of fire extinguishers. However, if there are extinguishers in living accommodation, landlords could have difficulties in accessing the equipment. This is because domestic dwellings are not covered by the RRO order and tenants cannot be forced to co-operate.

It is vital that landlords of HMO’s include a section in the tenancy agreement that is dedicated to fire safety and includes the expectations of tenants within the agreement. This should include allowing a responsible person appointed by the landlord to enter living accommodation to carry out the maintenance of any fire safety equipment.

Hartson Fire Maintenance & Servicing

At Hartson Fire we have a proven track record in delivering regular servicing and maintenance of our customers’ fire extinguishers.

Through state-of-the art software, we have in place alerts which advise us when customers’ equipment is due to be serviced or replaced.

Call us today for a free quote.